On Monday, May 16, 2016, AHRC New York City’s Day Services Technology Group gathered at AHRC NYC Headquarters to discuss the ways in which our organization utilizes technological devices to positively impact the lives of adults with disabilities.

The group discussed current strategies in the implementation of technology-related supports and how they can be improved to make our supports even better. The discussion included voices from a variety of service programs, as well as the staff of AHRC NYC’s Individualized Technology Strategies (ITS) department, which consists of Philip Proctor, Director of ITS, Charles Umaña and Glenna Sasiadek, Adaptive Technology Developers.

As explained by Philip, ITS focuses specifically on technology for the people supported through AHRC NYC’s programs across three tiers of service:

  • Maintenance for existing devices
  • Implementation of new technology
  • Training staff and the people we support to use new devices

AHRC NYC’s ITS department was founded following AHRC NYC receiving a Balancing Incentive Program grant, which led to a year-long research project and ultimately the application of hundreds of new individualized technology devices for the people who are supported through our organization’s programs.

Discussing Devices as They are Used Today

The team discussed the current status of the use of technology. Examples of current uses across our Day Services programs include:

  • Smart TVs are used at AHRC NYC Fisher Day Services to allow people to choose their daily schedules.
  • Self-advocates at Bush Terminal Day Services have been learning how to create PowerPoint presentations.
  • An Xbox is used at Manhattan Day Services for recreational purposes, including exercise routines and group gaming.
  • People with sensory deficiencies who are supported at the Howie Stone Day Services enjoy activities such as listening to music.

Almost all of the adult programs use iPads in some capacity. ITS member, Charles called the devices “the Swiss Army knife of technology“, because they include so many useful applications, such as monetary education apps, spelling challenges, personal organization tools, and accessible interfaces for ubiquitous internet platforms, such as YouTube.

An Eye Toward the Future

Additionally the group discussed methods to improve the application of technology throughout AHRC NYC’s adult programs, including:

  • Mitigating potential security issues, such as lost or stolen devices
  • The Tech Toolkit, an online-based support module used to support people by using technology on an individualized basis
  • Worries about broken items, to which the ITS team said, “Don’t be afraid to give technology to somebody with the fear of them breaking it. That’s what we are here for!
  • Ways of working on devices with accounts such as an Apple ID
  • Developing strategic plans to support devices remotely

The Day Services Tech Group will continue to meet seasonally to provide updates and to assist one another in the ever-expanding and evolving world of technology for the people we support.